I Am Gary Hampton.


Alexisonfire (2001-2011)
August 6, 2011, 5:37 pm
Filed under: Blogs, Music | Tags: , , , , ,

This morning Alexisonfire officially announced that they won’t be a band anymore. This news isn’t a huge surprise, and while it’s sad news to take, it’s probably for the best. As George’s goodbye message mentioned, Dallas has decided to focus on City and Colour full time and Wade has joined another band, so to replace both of them and try to keep going as AOF just wouldn’t be the same. For that reason alone, I would agree that this is a good time for them to end things.

I was first made aware of the band during Warped Tour in the summer of 2002. I was in a band called Reasonable Doubt at the time, and while we weren’t playing the tour we did go to the Barrie date with a stack of cd’s to hand out to the crowd in an attempt to spread the word about our band. While handing these cd’s out with my band mate Paul we ran into Jesse and Dallas of Alexisonfire who were also handing out sampler cd’s, except they were actually playing a show that day. We talked briefly about our bands and then went to their van to give each other’s music a listen. Obviously, they were much better than us. While we were playing high school pop-punk, they were onto something completely fresh and exciting, and in that moment sitting in their van listening to a demo version of .44 Caliber Love Letter, I knew this band was about to do something big. That being said, I had no idea just how big they would become.

The following summer I started running a street team for Billy Talent. We were called the BTAA, the Billy Talent Attack Army, which was quickly shortened to BTArmy. Shortly after the street team was formed, the band got signed to Warner Music Canada and instead of telling me to shut down the BTArmy, the label reached out to me and I started helping spread the word about their major label debut. In September of 2003 Billy Talent played the Opera House in Toronto with Alexisonfire, and while I had seen AOF perform a few times before this, this was the first time I spent time with the band since listening to their demo in their van. Since I was working with BT all day in Toronto, I was lucky enough to be let in for sound check and hung out with both bands behind the scenes. The main thing I remember about this day was how normal and humble everyone was. Here were two bands on the brink of becoming massive worldwide success stories, and yet nobody had an ounce of ego. This is something that would remain true with every future run in with either band.

After I stopped doing the BTArmy (they really didn’t need me) I started working for ThePunkSite.com doing album reviews and interviewing bands. I interviewed AOF during this time, and spent more time backstage with them during future concerts, mostly Warped Tour. I kept in touch with Alexisonfire’s management and at some point in 2006 I was asked to help out with an Alexisonfire street team in the same way I had done the BTArmy. The AOFArmy was born, but sadly I didn’t continue with it. I don’t remember exactly why, but I’m pretty sure it came down to me becoming too busy starting a new job at MTV Canada to handle just how massive AOF was becoming.

Over the years the band became one of the most respected and admired bands in hardcore, inspiring countless kids to pick up an instrument and start a band. They toured the world and represented Canada with pride. They put so much energy into their lives shows and continued to put out really great music, regardless of your thoughts on the progression of the band. Obviously fans are upset about the announcement of their demise, but as Dr. Seuss said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’

Alexisonfire gave us ten years and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for them and everything they’ve given to their fans, and to music in general. They’ve left a legacy that will continue to be discussed for years to come.

Thanks for the good times, boys, and good luck to all of you in the future.

-gh

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